Condyloma acuminata are wart-like lesions caused by a few of the near 80 strains or types of strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV). The strains that cause sexually transmitted warts are distinct from those causing warts on the hands or feet. They are usually transmitted by sexual contact, although some believe that transmission is possible without direct sexual contact. The latency period from contact to growth has not been truly defined. In that regard, it may be possible for weeks, months, and perhaps even years to pass between exposure and development of the lesion(s). The penile shaft is the most common site of condyloma. Thescrotum, perineum (area between the scrotum and anus), perianal region (directly around the anus), and prepubic region (area above the penis) are other common sites. Uncommonly, condyloma can occur in the urethra (tube through which you urinate). In women, condyloma present on the labia minora and majora, as well as within the vagina. Certain strains of HPV are known to cause cervical cancer in women, although there is no established link of HPV to penile cancer in men. When left untreated, the individual lesions may grow in size and spread to other areas.
Over the years, condyloma have been treated in many different ways. All of the therapies are administered with the intent of destroying the individual lesion(s). The virus, however, is usually not destroyed and so recurrence (without repeat exposure) is quite possible.
Topical Therapy: Medications applied only to the lesions that destroy tissue on contact
Antiviral Topical Therapy: Medicines applied to the entire general area that attack the virus following penetration into the skin or lesion
Cryotherapy: Application of liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy the lesion
Cauterization: Application of an electrical heat current to destroy the lesion
Laser Ablation: Use of specific types of laser to destroy the lesion
Excisional Biopsy: Surgically removing a specimen (done for large lesions or for those where we are not completely certain that the lesion represents condyloma)
The remainder of this section will focus on the procedures (cryotherapy, cauterization, and laser therapy). The proper use of and side-effects of the topically applied medicines would be discussed with you much like any other medicine that you receive from a physician.